Triathlete struck, injured by distracted driver - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Triathlete struck, injured by distracted driver


A woman is recovering after she was struck by a truck while competing in a Middle Tennessee half-triathlon.

The driver who hit her won't face any charges, but race organizers are now calling for changes.

Chatham County's River Bluff Half Triathlon includes 1 1/2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling and 13.1 miles of running.

The competition is not easy, and for race enthusiast Elaine Ver Halen, it was down right painful.

"She was only two miles from the transition area when she got hit by a car," said Kat Williams, with Start 2 Finish Racing.

Hit from behind mid-race by a distracted driver, Ver Halen's bike is now twisted metal as the racer recovers at home. She received care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The driver also went home as investigators deemed it all an accident, so they didn't cite the man behind the wheel.

"It's unfortunate. He had no ill-will intended, and there was no criminal act that I felt involved here," said Cheatham County Sheriff's Cpl. Carl Lyttle.

"There needs to be some kind of like repercussion for it, whether it's you do community service hours or you do something to say you're sorry," Williams said.

Many members of the racing community are outraged by the incident. They fear that without consequences, crashes like Ver Halen's will keep happening.

"It can be pretty upsetting when nothing is changed," Williams said.

Officers don't plan to make an arrest or a citation. Instead, they're hoping for a different change. They want drivers to learn from this crash, watch the road and share it.

"When you're driving, drive. Keep focused on what you're doing. That's the big thing here," Lyttle said.

Because of fog, the race's start times were delayed, and both event organizers and officers say that's probably why there were more cars on the road during the time of the race.

Still, event organizers say they're meeting with police in a couple of weeks and plan to ask to either close the roads or re-route traffic for next year's race

Ver Halen is expected to make a full recovery.

Channel 4 News spoke to the pickup truck driver Tuesday by phone. He didn't want to comment on the crash.

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